Today I finally dropped off twenty-three rolls of film to be developed. So many that I have to wait until Monday to pick them up, and they're going to give me a ten percent discount. You could argue about whether this is a good use of my finite supply of money, but I want to get this stuff developed--all the film from Mexico and the subsequent traveling, and some rolls that I think date back to early 2001, including pictures from our trip to Yosemite, where I think I took some good shots of Mona and a bunch of other friends. Somewhere in there are probably pictures of me, too. So I think it's important. And it'll be a while before I get actual prints done: for the moment they're just printing to photo CD, and shots that I or other people like, I'll bring the negatives in and get prints.
Yesterday was the first Thanksgiving in 3 years that I've spent doing something besides sleeping and watching TV around the house. Not that those are objectionable at all, but this year I went up to see the gang in Grass Valley, my grandmother, and my dad's cousins and their clan. They're all really sweet, giving people, and I like spending time with them; on top of that it's nice for my grandmother and for the clan to see someone from my branch of the family. There were roasted and barbecued turkeys, and a turkey shoot--apparently most of the clan owns bows for one reason or another, so we shot arrows for a 22-pound fresh-frozen turkey. (Everyone there seems to have grown up in the country, one way or another, and one of my second cousins and her husband are both black belts in Kuk Sool Won, a Korean martial art about which I know little, and they seem to have what I think is a fairly typical martial artist's affinity for weapons of one kind or another. I mean, I like guns and sticks and sharp objects, a few other guys from the dojo like guns, and everybody likes sword and staff practice.) Thankfully I didn't win the turkey...they offered to store it indefinitely, but what would I do with it? We only eat turkey on Angstgiving. So I'd probably give it to a soup kitchen. Moot point, anyway, because I hadn't shot a bow since I was twelve, and while I hit the target once during practice, I missed when the moment came. Good time, anyway.
My grandmother hates when I drive home late at night (e.g. any time after 6 P.M.), but since I'm, uh, strong-minded in addition to being 25, she just says "You know, I really wish you wouldn't drive that late", which (and I am constantly mindful of and grateful for this) is the closest anyone in my family ever comes to a guilt trip, at least with me. (If you missed it, the implication of that sentence is that she is concerned and I should adjust my schedule both for my own good and to save her some worrying.)
It's a parenthetical sort of night in Chris's journal.
Anyway, I dropped her off and went back to hang out with everyone. One neat thing that happened was that while talking to my dad's cousin, she discovered that I sing, and asked me to sing a song. Now, the kids generally treat me as a non-entity when I visit, because it's just every now and again and they don't know me from Adam and I barely have the attention span to explain the relationships to people ("I'm your grandmother's cousin's son"?), and so except for the three and four-year olds who were playing catch/throwing stuffed animals at me at one point, they're not really interested. But the cousin asked me to sing a song, so I sang a couple lines of "Moment of Forgiveness" by the Indigo Girls, and then decided I wanted a song I know the lyrics to, so I did the first half of "Moonshadow" by Cat Stevens, which I've known...forever, and it fits my voice really well. As I sang, kids who had been bouncing around in the next room started filtering in to where I was, and they settled down and just stood there and looked at me. Later on, Dan and Julie's oldest daughter, who hasn't said two words to me in the three times I've seen her, actually gifted me with an entire sentence, essentially saying she hoped I liked their house.
I did indeed like their house, because it's a neat house--when everyone started passing out, I followed them home, and we hung out for a couple hours and sat in a hot tub under the stars and talked about families and religion and healing. They are really, truly wonderful people, interested to hear about my friends and how my life in the Bay Area works--it's a life that I'm not sure could exist anywhere else, and the style and depth of my relationships here are very special, as we're bound together not just by shared experience but by common experience, insights we had before we met and then found we had in common. We argue, discuss, see everything from so many different points of view, and we love each other. There is a bewildering amount of support and fun pretty readily available, if one is willing to communicate that desire to others.
Real family is cumulative.
And today has been Angstgiving, with perhaps 40 people coming and tearing through a 23-pound turkey and tables full of mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes and biscuits and salads and banana bread and pies. More family.
It's almost December, which is vaguely disturbing because it's come so fast. Soon is the Chanukah party and the dojo holiday party, both on the 7th, and then on the 17th I'm flying out to see my first family in Massachusetts for two weeks, which I'm really looking forward to. And aikido, and I have a job interview on Monday.
Life is good, and I have a lot of energy to send to my loved ones who aren't having quite so good a month.